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Hiring a Texas Divorce Lawyer FAQs
How much does a Texas divorce lawyer cost?
Two factors determine the price of your Texas divorce lawyer: 1) the experience, skill, and reputation of the attorney; and 2) the complexity of your divorce. Highly skilled lawyers charge a higher rate in almost all cases. However, a skilled lawyer has more experience, so may need less time to research key issues. In this regard, a skilled lawyer can end up costing less, even with a higher hourly rate. And because a skilled lawyer has the experience necessary to win your case—or to encourage an early settlement—a skilled attorney is a good bargain who can save you money in the long run.
No matter how experienced your attorney is, the way you choose to litigate your case will affect its cost. If you want to fight to the death, expect a higher price tag. If you want to use many expert witnesses, submit a lot of evidence, or seek a final disposition that’s very unfavorable to your ex, you’ll need specialized help. Your divorce will also take longer. If you want to minimize costs, one of the best things you can do is be willing to settle.
How should I choose my Texas divorce lawyer?
The lawyer you hire can affect everything about the final disposition of your case. A good lawyer keeps things amicable, improving the likelihood of settlement. He or she will also be honest, and tell you if you’re doing anything that could potentially harm your case. More important than all of this is knowledge of the law. This knowledge should be grounded in significant experience, since the letter of the law is only one factor in your case’s outcome. Your lawyer should be able to tell you how certain judges are likely to rule, whether what you seek is reasonable, and how your ex’s lawyer is likely to litigate.
Ask about previous experience. Ask whether your lawyer is a specialist. Ask why you should hire this specific attorney.
Where can I find a Texas divorce lawyer?
Consider asking a friend who had a good outcome in their case for a recommendation. Steer clear of lawyers who practice numerous types of law, and be cautious about hiring friends and family; it’s always risky to work with someone you know and love.
If you’re not sure where to begin your search, contact the Texas Bar Association and ask for a family law specialist. Then interview several attorneys, and hire the one you feel most comfortable with. Don’t just Google and judge based on a website. If you do, you might end up with a lawyer who has time and money to invest in marketing, but not much experience at winning divorce cases.
How should I hire a Texas divorce lawyer?
Begin the process early—ideally before you even file for divorce. Call several lawyers and take first impressions seriously. How the receptionist treats you is often a good reflection of the culture at the firm. Make an appointment for a consultation, and don’t shy away from asking pointed questions and sharing your story. Then hire based on which lawyer has the most experience and who seems to care the most about your case.
Don’t hire based on false promises. No case is a guaranteed win. You want a lawyer who will be honest, not one who will flatter your ego.
What should I expect from my Texas divorce lawyer?
A lawyer’s job is to set litigation strategy, gather evidence, recruit experts, file pleadings, and prepare for trial. A lawyer is not a counselor or friend, and using him or her as such can undermine your case. Moreover, constantly calling your lawyer can cause you to quickly rack up a massive bill.
Should I get a second opinion?
You wouldn’t undergo major surgery without a second opinion. So don’t commit to spending money on something that will affect the rest of your life without getting a second opinion. You should consult at least two lawyers. If the two have drastically different opinions on your case, consult a third. And if you’re not happy with your lawyer at any point, it’s always a good idea to get a second opinion. You’ll either realize that your current lawyer is better than you thought, or end up with a better lawyer.
What should I do if I am unhappy with my lawyer?
If you’re unhappy with your lawyer, bring that issue up with him or her early. If this doesn’t resolve the problem, consider consulting with another lawyer for a second opinion. In some cases, you may even need to sue your lawyer for malpractice or file a complaint with the Texas Bar Association. Only a skilled family law expert can let you know if this is the right thing to do in your situation.
How do I file a complaint against my Texas divorce lawyer?
If your Texas divorce lawyer breaks the law or violates legal ethics, you have two options. You can file a complaint against the lawyer through the Texas Bar Association. You can also file a malpractice lawsuit against him or her. In either case, you should enlist the assistance of a skilled lawyer. Malpractice suits can recover damages for lost cases, but you will need specialized help to demonstrate that the loss was your lawyer’s fault. It’s not enough to show that your attorney didn’t do everything he or she could have. You must show that, but for the actions or inaction of your lawyer, you would have prevailed in your case.
Why should I hire a divorce lawyer?
You know your case best, right? So why hire someone else to manage it for you? A divorce lawyer is a true expert. He or she will ensure your court documents are correctly and timely filed, that your arguments follow the law, and that you make a compelling case. A brief Google search is not the same as years in law school and even more years spent practicing. If you opt to represent yourself, you are handicapping yourself. Your ex is going to hire a competent expert. Shouldn’t you?
Some people don’t want to hire a divorce lawyer because they think that doing so will make the process too contentious. The opposite is true. Hiring a lawyer removes the emotions. Your lawyer acts as a buffer and advocate who can speak to the other side without igniting a fiery debate. This can increase the odds of an early settlement. A settlement, of course, means less money, less time, and less stress. It also allows you to dictate the terms of your own divorce, rather than relying on a judge to tell you how to live your life.
What if I can’t afford a Texas divorce lawyer?
In the criminal system, if you can’t afford a lawyer, the court provides you with one. That’s not the case in the divorce court system. People who need help affording an attorney do have a few options. In some cases, a lawyer may be willing to take your case on a discounted basis, or allow you to make payments over time. In other cases, your ex might be required to pay your attorney’s fees, so discuss this option with your lawyer at the outset. If you have no other options and cannot afford a lawyer, a number of legal organizations offer free or low-cost legal support to people facing divorces.
Can I make my ex pay my legal fees?
Possibly. Texas courts look at the totality of circumstances surrounding a divorce in determining who is responsible for legal fees. If you make significantly less money than your ex and you did not behave unreasonably during the divorce proceedings, you may be able to file an attorney’s fee petition against your ex. Some divorce lawyers even take on costly cases with an agreement to pursue fees against the other party.
If you lose the petition for attorney’s fees, you will likely still be liable for your attorney’s fees, unless your contract says otherwise. Don’t count on your ex paying your attorney’s fees, or you could end up with a large bill you can’t afford. If you have questions about costs, talk to your lawyer.
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